Sabré Cook, a sophomore mechanical engineering student at Colorado School of Mines, is the only female with a professional kart racer license and is one of four finalists (out of 15,000) who have been named to the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program.
“As a driver, my engineering studies give me an advantage because I can relate things better to my team about how my car is functioning,” she said.
Cook took a year off school last year to focus on kart racing. She traveled to several countries, and was never in one place for more than two weeks at a time. Despite experiencing some of the most amazing things in her life, she said she missed Mines.
“At one point, during the summer, I went to the library and checked out an AP Calculus book. On the plane I would work through calculus problems just because I missed math."
Balancing her schoolwork with racing is difficult, but she is happy to be back at Mines. Most days of the week, she can be found at the gym where she works on strengthening her core and balance to increase her reaction time. After class or on the weekends, she trains in a racing simulator that allows her to drive life-like tracks.
She will be test-driving cars at the USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Jan. 28 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“This will be my first time on an oval track. I’m excited for that. This is one step closer to racing the Indy 500,” she said.
Cook has been trying to move from kart to car racing since she was 16 years old. But to race cars, she needs more sponsors or more money.
“If you don’t have enough money, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you can’t really move up.”
Cook grew up in Grand Junction in a racing family. Her father, Stacey Cook, professionally raced motocross and supercross, but didn’t want his daughter exposed to the physical risks that came with that type of racing. Karting and cars were the compromise.
At age 8, she was go-kart racing against her cousins and spun out. After that incident, she drove slow for a while, receiving the family nickname, “Driving Miss Daisy.”
“One day, I was tired of getting beat by all the boys and some little boys teasing me. I went to my dad and asked for a faster kart so that I could win. After my dad gave in and I raced in a new kart, I won by 10 seconds.”
She started competitively racing at 10 years old, two years later than most of her fellow racers. Since then, she has become a six-time Colorado State Champion, a 2012 Superkarts USA S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto champion, won two TAG USA World Championships and received a SKUSA Mountain Region title.
Last year, Cook learned about the less-glamorous aspects of racing as luck was not on her side. During a race over the summer, a driver ran over the side of her car and she was left with a concussion and destroyed kart, unable to race for a few days. In the fall, she participated as the first female in history in the FIA KZ World Cup kart championship in Sarno, Italy. She made it around the first lap before her motor blew up, and wasn’t able to finish.
On the horizon, Cook is looking forward to racing in the 2015 FIA European Championship Series in the spring. She is hoping to qualify for the World Cup in September.
After Mines, Cook would like to pursue graduate school as a F1 engineer at Oxford Brookes University in England. She is also interested in applying for an internship on a Formula 1 Team.